HERCULES -- A mailer supporting the three incumbents in Tuesday's City Council election has some residents and at least one challenger crying foul.
"(Gerard) Boulanger, (Dan) Romero & (William) Wilkins for the Hercules City Council," sponsored by the Hercules Voice political action committee, credits the trio with helping the city recover from a financial mess by hiring a new city attorney, city manager and finance director; averting bankruptcy by settling a lawsuit with a bond insurer; finalizing a development agreement for a transit village adjacent to the city's future transit center for buses, trains and ferries; securing millions of dollars in grants for the transit center; and other smart financial moves.
Challenger Bill Kelly and supporters of three other challengers, Sherry McCoy, Hector Rubio and Phil Simmons, complain that the mailer, by selectively quoting from a Sept. 25 Contra Costa Times editorial about the Hercules council race and a Sept. 23 Times column by editorial page director Dan Hatfield about elections that does not even mention Hercules, falsely implies that the newspaper endorsed all three incumbents. The Times endorsed Romero and Wilkins but not Boulanger. The third candidate endorsed by the Times is Kelly.
Hercules Voice was launched by Anton Jungherr, the principal organizer of the successful recall in June 2011 of two council members widely blamed by residents to have stood by idly for several years while a former city manager plunged the city into financial chaos. Boulanger and Wilkins were elected to replace the recalled council members, and Romero won a seat vacated in early 2011 by the resignation of a third council member who was served with a recall notice.
The Sept. 25 Times editorial chastised Boulanger for "deceit" during the recall campaign because he had falsely claimed that he earned several university degrees in his native France; the degrees turned out to be fictitious, as was Boulanger's claim to have served on the joint municipal council of two cities with a combined population of more than 100,000 outside Paris.
The quotations in the Hercules Voice mailer include "We think the challengers are wrong," from the Sept. 25 editorial; and, "We simply cannot lend our support to candidates who don't understand the fiscal realities and responsibilities of the offices they seek," from the Sept. 23 column.
Jungherr, in an email, stood by his mailer, saying it correctly quotes from the column and editorial.
"We clearly stated that the Hercules Voice ... agreed with these statements," he said in an email Monday. "We stated that the Hercules Voice endorsed Boulanger, Romero and Wilkins. Nowhere in our mailer did we say or suggest that the West County Times endorsed Boulanger, Romero and Wilkins."
The Times endorsed Kelly as "the most thoughtful and reasonable" and "clearly the best pick" among the four challengers.
Kelly, in an email to the paper, said: "The flier unquestionably conveys the false impression that your newspaper has endorsed the re-election of Councilman Gerard Boulanger," adding: "The most troubling aspect of this incident is that neither Mr. Romero nor Mr. Wilkins has made any attempt to dissociate themselves from the lie being advanced by the flier."
Boulanger, Romero and Wilkins told this newspaper in emails that they are not running as a slate. Romero added that he supports the incumbents. Wilkins added that he has not endorsed any candidate and that he had no say in whom Hercules Voice endorsed.
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at twitter.com/tomlochner
See the flier at ContraCostaTimes.com